Orthographic effects on rhyme monitoring

September 25th, 2016

seidenbergRhyme monitoring offers countless opportunities for a watchful person. A few of those opportunities were seized, resulting in this study:

Orthographic effects on rhyme monitoring,” Mark S. Seidenberg [pictured here] and Michael K. Tanenhaus, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, vol. 5, no. 6, 1979, pp. 546-54.

Here’s detail from the study:



Announcing the 2016 Ig Nobel Prize winners!

September 23rd, 2016

Ten new Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded last night (September 22, 2016), at the 26th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre. The prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK.

Here’s video of the entire ceremony:

Tomorrow, the new Ig Nobel Prize winners will give short public talks, and answer questions:

The Ig Informal Lectures
Saturday, Sep 24, 2016, 1:00 pm
MIT, building 26, room 100.
FREE admission, but seating is limited (so get there early)

UPDATE (Sept 24): In this photo, the new Ig Nobel Prize winners bask in applause at the conclusion to the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT. Kneeling in front of them are the four fly-swatter-wielding timekeepers, plus two official Confused Bystanders. Thanks to John Jenkins and the The MIT Press Bookstore for, as, always, helping to produce the event. Photo by Richard Baguley.


Watch the 26th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony here!

September 22nd, 2016

The 26th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony happens today — Thursday, September 22, 2016.

Watch the live webcast here. The broadcast will start at 5:40 PM US eastern time. The ceremony itself begins at 6:00 PM US Eastern Time.

(Want to attend the ceremony in person, at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre? Tickets have been sold out for a while now. But it’s possible a few last-minute tickets will become available: (1) check the Harvard Box Office web site; or (2) if you want to take your chances, come to the ticket window in Sanders Theatre one hour prior to the ceremony start.)

Please feel free to livetweet your thoughts, reactions, opinions, happiness, disgust, and genius, using the hashtag #IgNobel.


An analysis of CEO shirking (at the golf course)

September 22nd, 2016

GolfersCEOs of high-profile (e.g. S&P 1500) corporations are sometimes tempted to shirk their duties. One quite well-tried method of shirking is to leave the office for the day and play golf instead. Thus, as an observer, if you take the position that shirking might in general hamper business performance, an extrapolated question can be asked – ‘Is golf bad for business?’ Researchers Biggerstaff, Cicero and Puckett have investigated such things, and present their findings in a forthcoming paper for the journal Management Science entitled FORE! An analysis of CEO shirking They find that :-

“CEOs that golf frequently (i.e., those in the top quartile of golf play, who play at least 22 rounds per year) are associated with firms that have lower operating performance and firm values.”

And also :

”Numerous tests accounting for the possible endogenous nature of these relations support a conclusion that CEO shirking causes lower firm performance.”

A full copy of the paper can be found here.

Also see:Optimal shirking’
Bonus: ‘2012 Yearly Golfball Patents: A look back’

Optional assignment Although not investigated in the paper, some take the view that golf is actually good for business – in the sense that high-profile CEOs often encounter other high-profile CEOs at the golf course. Discuss

Note: The picture is ‘The MacDonald boys playing golf ‘ by Jeremiah Davison (1695?–1750?)

Ig Nobel Prize-winning swearing research wins best science book prize

September 22nd, 2016

Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad, a new book by Richard Stephens, is the British Psychological Society’s Book Award winner — in the category Popular Science.bps-logo The BPS’s Book Awards have just been announced.

In the year 2010, Richard Stephens and two colleagues were awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize, for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain. That research is documented in the study  “Swearing as a Response to Pain,” Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston, Neuroreport, vol. 20 , no. 12, 2009, pp. 1056-60.

That same research forms part of the backbone of Richard Stephens’ (now prize-winning!) recent book, Black Sheep.

BONUS INFO: There is something of a tradition now of Ig Nobel Prize winners’ books winning prizes. One of the earliest examples: Chris McManus‘s book Right Hand, Left Hand, was awarded the 2003 Aventis Prize as best science book of the year. That book, Right Hand, Left Hand, grew mightily, over many years, from the research that eventually earned McManus the 2002 Ig Nobel Prize for biology. That Ig Nobel Prize was for McManus’s first published scientific paper: “Scrotal Asymmetry in Man and in Ancient Sculpture,” which appeared in the journal Nature, vol. 259, February 5, 1976, p. 426.